LONDON -- Following a ruling by Europe's highest court, the Irish Data Commission has said it will investigate whether U.S. government spies accessed the information of an Austrian Facebook user. In the High Court in Dublin Tuesday, a lawyer for the IDC told Justice Gerard Hogan the investigation would go ahead without delay after the court refused in 2012 to examine the complaint. The complaint was based on the Safe Harbor agreement, which was enacted in 2000.
That refusal by the Irish courts led to a ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union earlier this month that said in light of the revelations made in documents leaked by Edward Snowden in 2013, the Safe Harbor agreement no longer could be considered valid.
The latest ruling will see Irish Data Commissioner Helen Dixon open an investigation into the transfer of Facebook users' data from Ireland -- where Facebook is headquartered in Europe -- to Facebook in the U.S., which was represented in court on Tuesday.
Facebook has said it does not grant anyone access to users' information.
“Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the U.S. government direct access to our servers,” the company told Bloomberg. “We will respond to inquiries from the Irish Data Protection Commission as they examine the protections for the transfer of personal data under applicable law."
Austrian student Max Schrems made the complaint initially in 2012 before the leaks by Snowden, saying at the time: “The law and practices of the United States offer no real protection against surveillance by the United States of the data transferred to that country.” Schrems had filed 22 previous complaints against the company, and was awarded legal costs in court Tuesday.